“Let My People Go!” The story of the Exodus (part I)

Hearing the Word:  Exodus 2:23b-25, Exodus 5:1-5, Exodus 6:28-7:6

The story of the Exodus stretches through the first twenty chapters of Genesis.  Several storybook versions of the larger narrative are available for you to use today, in order to share the bird’s-eye view of the story.

Over the next three weeks, each class (except for the 3 & 4 year olds) will hear the Godly Play story of the Exodus, which offers an overview of the story.  During today’s session, please focus on  the story of the Exodus until the Passover:  showing Israel enslaved, and God’s promise to liberate her.  We will take another class session to focus on the Passover/and Israel’s escape into the wilderness.

Overview:  In Exodus, where we’ll be for the next month, we encounter a new mode of story-telling.  Now, multitudes of Israelites are living on earth, not just a single family.  The story of God’s work in the midst of this people becomes a story about an entire nation, and the way God provides for and reveals God’s self in the midst of this nation’s suffering.

Looking Back:  Remind your class of Moses’ encounter with God in the burning bush.

Why did God come to Moses?  What did God tell Moses to do?  How did Moses respond to God?

Look up Exodus 3:7-10 to recall what God is up to in and through Moses.

Objectives (some of these objectives will remain the same for next week’s lesson):

(1.)  After the next three weeks, children will be able to re-tell the broad thrust of the Exodus story.  Older children will speak of the ways that God used Moses and other figure in the story to liberate Israel.

(2.)  Children will identify three key thematically-defined spaces in the Exodus story:  Egypt (place of bondage), wilderness (an in-between space where freedom is realized and where the Israelites change and grow), and the promised land.

(3.)  Children will see that in this story, God identifies himself as the God who delivers the Israelites, the slaves who are being oppressed by the Egyptians.  Throughout Scripture, this turns out to be one essential way that God reveals who God is (the one who brought the Israelites out of bondage in Egypt).  Bob Ekblad writes, “the story shows God visibly standing with the weakest, most vulnerable ones in the story…Exodus depicts God as sovereign — but in a completely unexpected way.  God’s sovereignty is exercised, not through the males identified by Pharaoh to be the greatest threat, but through mothers, a young girl, and even the foreign princess…”

Activities:

(1.)  Active games:

(a.)  Find here a game to help children understand that the Israelites lived as slaves in Egypt.

(b.)  “Let My People Go!”  – This is a version of “Red Light / Green Light.”  Designate one member of your class the Pharaoh, the other, Moses.  The rest of the class are “Israelites,” and should line up at the opposite end of the room.  When Moses says, “Let my people go!” the class proceeds forward (as in “green light.”  When Pharoah says, “no!”, everyone must stop.  The first person to reach pass Pharoah and Moses wins the game.

(2.)  Here is a link to make a pyramid craft, reminding your class that as slaves, the Israelites worked to build Egyptian pyramids.

(3.)  I’m hesitant to address the plagues too much (as I’m afraid to trivialize them).  Here is a link to a “go fish” card game referencing the plagues.

(4.)  Make a large map of Egypt, and show the Israelites’ escape route.

(5.) Heart cookies (or play-doug heart cut-outs, or air-dry clay hearts).  One of the major themes in our story, is Pharoah’s hard-hearted refusal to listen to God.  Discuss Pharoah’s stubborness with children in your class.  Encourage them to think of a time when they, like Pharoah, refused to listen and obey.  Then, decorate heart cookies, or use cookie-cutters to make/decorate hearts out of play dough or air dry clay.

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